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doctor’s visit

7 Reasons to Schedule Your Next Medical Checkup

Written on May 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm , by

Are you healthy from the inside out? (Photo by Laura Doss)

You can see the results of hitting the gym and eating more veggies in the mirror, which keeps you motivated to maintain these smart habits. But sometimes, it’s what you can’t see from the outside that is a better reflection of your true health. That’s why regular visits to your doctor are so important! As National Women’s Health Week comes to a close, schedule your yearly physical (if you haven’t had one recently) and take along this wellness checklist, courtesy of Planned Parenthood, to ensure the appointment covers all your bases.

  • Birth Control: Talk to your doc about the best option for you. (Read up here before you go to learn about some of the most effective and popular picks.)
  • Breast Cancer Screening: Help detect cancer early, during its most treatable stages.
  • Pap Test and HPV Test: Screen for cervical cancer warning signs.
  • Pelvic Exam: Help detect signs of infection, protect against infertility and promote safe and healthy pregnancies.
  • Pregnancy: If you’re thinking about becoming a mom, discuss pre-pregnancy health and planning for your growing family.
  • STDs: Testing protects you and your partners. Should you ask for STD testing? Find out by taking this quiz.
  • Etc.: Find out which other screenings (bone health, diabetes, heart health) may be beneficial for you by using the interactive screening tool at womenshealth.gov/whw.

Hot Topic Tuesday: How Medically-Accurate is Pop Culture?

Written on May 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm , by

Your doctor may not look like McDreamy, but you should trust him more than the actor! (Photo by Susan Pittard)

“Ten blade—stat!” You’ve likely followed along (or tried to) as the paramedics rush patients in from ambulance to emergency room to operating room, all the while shouting precise medical terms to each other, on intense shows like Grey’s Anatomy and ER. It’s fun to get a peek into the powerful world of life-saving, and medical TV shows, movies and other pop culture references allow us to do just that (minus the real-life pain and blood).

But those of us who aren’t doctors have a tough time distinguishing what could be real and what is just drama. A recent New York Times article called out the new HBO series Girls for disseminating inaccurate information about the sexually transmitted infection HPV. The writer claims that an episode of Girls misinformed viewers about the prevalence of HPV (it is so common that at least 50 percent of  sexually active individuals get it at some point in their lives, according to the CDC), the severity of it and what is involved in testing and treatment for the STI.

Now tell us: Is this taking fictional dramas too seriously? Or do writers on health programs owe it to their viewers to have medical advisors on staff to guarantee the accuracy of their content?

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Hot Topic Tuesday: Should Your Doctor Give You an Exercise Rx?

Written on February 28, 2012 at 11:39 am , by

Take one dose of sweat five to six times each week. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Whether you’re looking to lose a few or not, we all know that exercise plays an important role in overall health, from lowering your blood pressure to decreasing your risk for diabetes. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey found that just one in three patients say that their doctors suggested that they exercise more or keep up with their fitness regimen during their checkups and office visits during the last year.

You know the drill: No matter what your visit is about, your M.D. will check your temperature, peek in your eyes and ears and take your pulse. But do you think it’s your doc’s responsibility to also check in on your exercise habits? And why don’t you think they talk more about physical activity now? (Could it be that they are worried about offending you, crunched with a full patient schedule or perhaps even they have difficulty squeezing in fitness during their packed days?)

Sound off in the comments!

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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What Does Hyperthyroidism Feel Like?

Written on January 31, 2012 at 9:45 am , by

Kimberly, far left, first blamed her symptoms on stress. (Photo courtesy of Kimberly Dorris)

You now know the signs and symptoms of the different thyroid diseases, but how does a diagnosis affect your life? We asked a woman with the most common form of hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease, to tell us more about her experience. Besides being a patient, 44-year-old Kimberly Dorris is the Executive Director of the Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Foundation.

Tell us about your diagnosis. What first tipped you off that something may be wrong?

I went in for a check-up after experiencing an occasionally rapid heart rate, insomnia and hand tremors. I would watch waves in my coffee cup because my hands were shaking so badly. Often, I’d notice excessive sweat, but I live in Arizona so I wrote that off on the heat!

My doctor then ran a TSH test and I was soon diagnosed with Graves’, which is an autoimmune disease. When you have Graves’, your immune system begins attacking your healthy tissue, including the thyroid gland, the cells and tissues behind your eyes and sometimes the skin.

How does Graves’ disease impact your daily life?

It’s really a constant struggle to keep my weight in check. While weight loss is a symptom for many patients with hyperthyroidism, others struggle with weight gain after beginning treatment. More research is needed to determine if this is because of the disease itself or the treatment, but it has affected my self esteem and energy. I try to focus on what I can control, like being as active as possible, rather than what I can’t (my weight fluctuations).

My overall stamina has decreased. So while I used to play in a tennis league, now I feel fortunate to be able to hit the ball around with friends. I play about twice a week and try to walk twice a week, kickbox once and strength train once.
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Do You Have a Primary Care Doc?

Written on February 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm , by

Image via flickr user kokopinto

Image via flickr user kokopinto

Here’s a dirty secret from your resident health editor: for more than a decade, I didn’t go to a primary care doctor. I got yearly checkups from my ob/gyn and figured, since I was young and healthy, that was enough.

It’s a common practice among young women—but one that is putting our heart health at risk, I learned today at a Mayo Clinic-sponsored panel discussion of leading heart health experts.

Regular physicals are important, even if you feel fine, for detecting risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Heart disease is the number one killer of women and even young, fit women are at risk.

I finally got myself a primary care doc a couple of years ago. Now, before my next visit, I’m going to print out this list of questions to ask about heart health from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Do you have a primary care doc on your health team?

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